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Premature babies and development

Find out how to help a baby born early develop normally and meet its milestones

If your baby was born early, work out how well they're developing based on the date they should have been born. This is called their 'corrected age'.

For example, if your 10-month-old baby was born 2 months early, their corrected age is 8-months-old. You should check that your baby is meeting the milestones for 8 months.

Most premature babies meet their milestones for their corrected age and grow up normally.

How to help your preterm baby develop

You can help your baby's development using:

  • skin-to-skin contact - gentle touch and holding helps your baby to sleep, save energy and grow
  • sound - talk to your baby and learn what sounds soothe or upset them
  • light - bright light is stressful for premature babies, soft lighting and shade will help them get used to life outside the womb
  • smell - avoid perfumed products so that your baby can learn to recognise your natural smell
  • naps - your baby needs sleep to grow

Stroking, talking to and making eye contact with your baby all at once can be overwhelming for them. Try to do one thing at a time and give your baby time to respond.

The Irish Premature Babies websitehas more information for parents of premature babies.

Page last reviewed: 20/11/2018
Next review due: 20/11/2021